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<-Back to WTN Archives Xinjiang-Migration
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World Tibet Network News

Sunday, January 14, 1996

4. Xinjiang-Migration

KORLA, China (AP) -- The word Xinjiang means "the New Territory." Most
Chinese still think of it that way, regarding it as a desolate, forbidding
place, backward and wild.

Yet, in recent years, it has drawn growing numbers of Han Chinese,
mostly from central and southwestern China, who seek new opportunities.

Wang Xiying, a 33-year-old peasant from Minyang, in southwestern
Sichuan province, came with her husband last year because of drought back

In Korla, she makes 12 cents for every 82 1/2-foot length of reed that
she bundles together, earning the equivalent of $1.80 for a full day of
work under a searing sun protected only by a wind-battered, crude thatch

Others come to invest in Xinjiang's booming economy, which has grown
about 10 percent annually the past four years. Trade with the former
Soviet republics across the border is rising as Xinjiang revives its
historical role as a trading crossroads between East and West.

Still others are technical experts transferred to Xinjiang from
industrial bases elsewhere in China to tap the region's rich oil and
mineral resources and other raw materials.

In Korla, the population has grown from 200,000 in the late 1970s to
today's 300,000. Almost all of the newcomers are Han Chinese from oil
towns in other parts of China who have come to support China's ambitious
oil exploration in the Taklamakan Desert.

Now, 61 percent of Korla's residents are Han Chinese. Uygurs, a Muslim
ethnic group, is the second largest segment at 34 percent. Nomadic
Mongolians, who once dominated this part of Xinjiang, have scattered into
the hills.

The influx of Chinese is the second Han migration to Xinjiang this
century. In the late 1950s, the government sent thousands of Chinese to
the region to pave roads, lay rail tracks and build hospitals and schools.

The two migrations have completely changed the demographics of
Xinjiang. Before the 1950s, Uygurs made up 78 percent of Xinjiang's
population. Now, they account for 48 percent, while the Han Chinese make
up 38 percent.

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Protest held at Florida Splendid China
  2. China orders places of worship to register
  3. Bhutan-Refugees
  4. Xinjiang-Migration

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